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Unitas Sailors Team Up For a Worthy Cause

U.S. sailors perform maintenance work, painting and cleaning at a battered women's shelter
Commander's wife donates books to local school for disabled children

Posted: November 9, 2004

[Official U.S Navy Photo by Photographers Mate Second Class (DV) Jeffrey Lehrberg. Fleet Combat Camera Atlantic. Released by Lieutenant Ligia Cohen, PAO/US NAVSO]
A sailor from the USS John L. Hall (FFG-32) helps paint a room at the "Center for the Promotion of Human Dignity" (CeProDiH), a shelter for battered women.
USS Dewert (FFG 45) and USS John L Hall (FFG 32) sailors volunteered to perform some maintenance work, painting and cleaning at a women and children’s shelter in Montevideo during a port visit conducted as part of UNITAS 45-04 Atlantic Phase.

The project involved painting the center’s nursery, kitchen and a large cafeteria and play area for the younger children. With more volunteer than rollers, the sailors found other ways to help by disassembling, cleaning and moving a large stove, removing old clutter from the attic and fixing electrical wires.

“The guys and gals have done a terrific job,” said Adriana Abraham, the shelter’s director. “They work with a lot of enthusiasm, dedication and will to help. I have asked them where they are from, and they come from different places all over the United States, but they all share the same desire to help out.”

The shelter, named Center for the Promotion of Human Dignity, has undertaken the mission of providing food and boarding for homeless and abused women. It also provides training and job skills to help these women become self-sufficient. There are currently 19 women and 43 children living at the shelter.

John L. Hall and Dewert sailors jumped at the opportunity to help this worthy cause. “I had 50 volunteers, and I had to scale it down quite a bit because there were too many people for the job,” said Lt. j.g. Zachary Garcia, USS John L. Hall Damage Control Assistant and community relations coordinator. “I believe sailors volunteer because they don’t want to do the stereotypical thing at the places they visit. They want to help out.”

Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, sponsors community outreach projects throughout South America and the Caribbean as a mean to foster friendship and understanding between the United States and its southern neighbors.

[U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]
Mrs. Sandy Smith donating several books to the FDR School
for disabled children. (Nov. 3)  
more pictures...
A few days ago, the Commander's wife, Mrs. Sandy Smith, visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt School for disabled children where she made a donation of books for its library. She was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador's wife, Mrs. Audrey Silverstein. The school is a NGO staffed by volunteers who look after some 90 disabled children suffering from a variety of ailments such as polio, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc. The majority of these kids live in extremely poor areas around the city, some several miles away. The school provides free transportation to and from their homes, food, primary education, medical assistance including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and psychiatry. Although the school has limited sources of income mainly through donations, it is able to provide an integral rehab and educational program thanks to a staff of dedicated volunteers. Mrs. Smith's donation was well received by the kids who immediately began rummaging through the boxes of books picking out their favourite ones.

After this port visit, John L. Hall and Dewert sailors headed out to sea to engage in 10 days of high-tempo training with their counterparts from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Spain participating in UNITAS. Hosted by the Uruguayan Navy, UNITAS is designed to develop interoperability and increase readiness of the participating forces in a wide variety of warfare areas from air defense to antisubmarine operations.

The U.S. forces participating are led by Captain Dave Costa, Commander Destroyer Squadron Six and include the frigates frigates USS Dewert (FFG 45) and USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) and their embarked air detachments, in addition to an Air Force C-130 detachment from the 5th Special Operations Squadron.

UNITAS exercises are conducted under the direction of Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), in support of SOUTHCOM’s Theater Security Cooperation strategy in the region. Throughout the years, UNITAS has provided an outstanding training opportunity in a high-tech environment while fostering multi-national coalition operations and increase friendship and understanding among regional naval forces. With the incorporation of an Air Force unit, UNITAS prepares to increase its realism and relevance by integrating a joint dimension into this traditional naval exercise.

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